January 31, 2011

Guest Post: “After Dark” Book Review by Kenji Crosland of TeachStreet

Four Stars

This is a guest post by Kenji Crosland of TeachStreet.  TeachStreet is an online community dedicated to providing local and online classes, from classes on fitness to the language arts.

After having lived in Tokyo for five years, a question that I’d often get and always found difficult to answer was: “What’s Tokyo Like?”  Try as I might, I never could really come up with a good answer.  Tokyo’s a huge city and one district is so different from the next that I have always found it difficult to provide an adequate answer. After reading Haruki Murakami’s latest novel “After Dark,” I almost feel tempted to tell people, “Have you ever heard of ‘After Dark’. Read that and you’ll know what Tokyo is like.”

In the opening paragraph, Murakami describes the city as a “a single gigantic creature—or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms. Countless arteries stretch to the ends of its elusive body, circulating a continuous supply of fresh blood cells, sending out new data and collecting the old, sending out new consumables and collecting the old, sending out new contradictions and collecting the old. To the rhythm of its pulsing, all parts of the body flicker and flare up and squirm.”

Murakami then flashes a montage of vivid images, of “teenage girls with brilliant bleached hair, healthy legs thrusting out from microminiskirts” and “dark-suited men racing across diagonal
crossings for the last trains to the suburbs”. We’re pulled along at an incredible pace until, suddenly we find ourselves in a Denny’s, where two of the main characters, Mari and Takahashi, first meet.

The characters in After Dark are vivid and real, but not quite of this world, like photographs with the colors turned up too bright.  There’s Kaoru, a former woman pro-wrestler with a dyed-blond crew cut who manages a love hotel, there’s the Japanese salaryman who happens to like beating up chinese prostitutes.  There’s Eri Asai, a beautiful young model who falls into a mysterious sleep one day and can’t be awoken.  There’s Mari, Eri’s studious and bespectacled sister, who became an insomniac the very time Eri started sleeping.  Finally, there is “The Man With No Facem” a character whose motives we never really understand and who always makes the reader feel uneasy any time he steps into the scene.  Even though we probably haven’t, we feel as though we have met all of these characters before. I suspect that some of us have even met “The Man With No Face” somewhere in our dreams.

Like the “intertwining organism” that is Tokyo, the book has several plots, although it’s hard to say which plot is the main one.  Sometimes it feels as though the plots are only there as a way for us to get to know the characters better.  Although the plot line of the Chinese mafia chasing down the evil salaryman who beat up their girl is interesting, what is more interesting is to see Mari and Takahashi get caught up in it, and in the process get to know each other better.

Overall, “After Dark” is a pretty good read.  One which, as a former Tokyo resident was full of many “Aha!” moments.  It doesn’t quite reach the sublime levels of his epic Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World but it serves as a great introduction to Murakami’s wonderful body of work and a definitive answer to the question: “What’s Tokyo Like?” http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelrogers/2692043315/sizes/m/in/photostream/

January 30, 2011

Message from Author Lisa Dale

Dear Readers,

I’ve started a Facebook page. And because I believe in being a good hostess, I’m giving away some great prizes to book-loving friends who come hang out with me!

Contest ends Feb 1. Win:

1. $50 Amazon Gift Card!
2. One signed copy of It Happened One Night
3. One signed copy of Simple Wishes

Here’s how to join the fun!

2. Tell two of your friends about my new page (by posting a link to it on their walls or sending an email/message).
3. Send an email to Lee@AuthorSoundRelations.com  stating the names of the two people you shared my page with. Subject Line: Lisa Dale Contest!

That’s it!

(For those of you who aren’t on Facebook, don’t fret! Even if you're not on Facebook, you can still email two friends about my regular Web site (http://lisadalebooks.com/). That counts too!)


Sending you warmest wishes,

Lisa Dale
Slow Dancing on Price's Pier, Spring 2011

Review: Halfway Hexed by Kimberly Frost

Halfway Hexed (A Southern Witch Novel)

After her heroics while saving the town in Would-Be Witch and Barely Bewitched you'd think that the residents of Duvall, Texas would be honoring Tammy Jo Trask. But no, sadly they're trying to expel the demons out of her by kidnapping her and praying for her. When she finally escapes from those religious nuts she winds up being picked up again by another kidnapper. One whose plans are a bit more sinister than praying the evil out of her.

Once again Tammy Jo makes a quick escape but now she has to deal with the  president of The World Association of Magic who has come to town with a group of witches to question Tammy Jo and Bryn Lyons. Bryn is the one wizard who Tammy Jo is forbidden to have anything to do with because of a long ago family prophecy but he is also the  wizard who is a perfect match Tammy Jo. When the two get together not only do the sparks fly but the magic that flows between them makes them both more powerful.

Now with more enemies than she can handle Tammy Jo is on the run to save herself, a mysterious woman trapped inside a cameo and once again, the town of Duvall.

Tammy Jo is such a lovable character. She is funny, brave and adorably clumsy all at once. Her antics would definitely be cheesy and unbelievable for another character but they are perfectly suited for Tammy Jo making this light paranormal series a must read. I highly recommend reading books one and two in the series first because Halfway Hexed is not a stand-alone read. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series because this one has a definite cliff hanging ending!

January 10, 2011

Books I've Read in 2011

Even though life is really hectic now adays and I'm not blogging much I'm still going to try to keep my books read in 2011 list current. Here's what I've read so far:

  1. Soul Trapper by F.J. Lennon
  2. The Dallas Women's Guide to Gold-Digging with Pride by J.C. Conklin
  3. Sucker Punch by Sammi Carter
  4. Halfway Hexed by Kimberly Frost
  1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  2. Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep
  1. Rasner's Revenge by Mark Rosendorf
  2. The Madonnas of Echo Park: A Novel by Brando Skyhorse
  3. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (audio)
  4. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (re-read on audio)
  5. Journal of a UFO Investigator by David Halperin
  1. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz + David Hayward
  2. The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey
  3. Shadow Fever by Karen Marie Moning
  1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
  2. One Second After by William R. Forstchen
  3. Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin
  4. Jinx by Jennifer Estep
  5. Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun by Victoria Laurie
  1. Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb
  2. Live Wire by Harlan Coben
  3. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  4. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
  5. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper, Cecil Murphey
  6. Extras by Scott Westerfeld
  7. The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry
  1. Pushing Up Daisies by Rosemary Harris
  2. The Professor and the Housekeeper by Yoko Ogawa
  3. Making Waves by Tawna Fenske
  4. Shelter by Harlan Coben
  5. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
  1. Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
  2. Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
  3. Fish Out of Water by MaryJanice Davidson
  4. The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
  5. Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
  1. Undead and Undermined by MaryJanice Davidson
  2. Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
  3. Snapped by Laura Griffin
  4. Prince of Ravenscar by Catherine Coulter
  1. Ghouls Gone Wild by Victoria Laurie
  2. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  3. Miracle Cure by Harlan Coben
  4. Son of Stone by Stuart Woods
  5. Real Vampires Have More to Love by Gerry Bartlett
  6. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
  7. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  8. Spider's Revenge by Jeniffer Estep
  1. Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
  2. A Karma Girl Christmas by Jennifer Estep
  3. Just One Of The Guys by Kristan Higgins
  4. A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
  5. Halloween Frost by Jennifer Estep in the Entangled Anthology
  6. V Is For Vengeance by Sue Grafton
  1. The Stupidest Angel By Christopher Moore
  2. Chaos in Death by J.D. Robb in The Unquiet Anthology
  3. Zero Day by David Baldacci
  4. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
  5. Racing The Devil by Jaden Terrell
Previous Reads: